BOISE, Idaho — Republican U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador sent Idaho voters a campaign mailer ornamented with the state seal asking for contributions to his 2018 gubernatorial bid, even though the secretary of state’s office said Thursday the seal should only be used for official state business.
Labrador’s fundraiser flier asked voters to give $50, $75, $100 or more in campaign donations. The mailer, sent out earlier this month, aimed to get people to pledge their support for Labrador’s 2016 campaign promises to move America to a more conservative direction.
Tim Hurst, deputy secretary of state, says that the Idaho seal should be used only for official business because the state doesn’t choose a side in elections. However, there’s no penalty for not following the policy.
“Using the seal basically implies a state endorsement,” Hurst said. “It’s supposed to be for special purposes, not just for everybody to use.”
China Gum, Labrador’s campaign manager, provided a statement Thursday reaffirming Labrador’s pride of Idaho’s heritage but did not respond to questions about whether the campaign will stop using the seal.
“Raúl is going to continue to work for a brighter Idaho for all of us. We are humbled by the support we have been receiving since announcing this campaign a month ago and we look forward to continuing to communicate with voters across Idaho,” Gum said.
Gum also did not respond to questions about whether the secretary of state’s office asked the campaign to stop using the seal and why the campaign chose to use the image.
It’s not unusual for the secretary of state to address candidates using the state seal, though Hurst noted it doesn’t normally happen so early in an election cycle with the May primary still 10 months away.
Last year, state GOP Rep. Don Cheatham denied accusations he used a copy of his official legislative letterhead to send out campaign letters despite the letter containing a faint state seal and letters across the top that read “House of Representatives, State of Idaho.”
Likewise, in 2012, three Boise Democratic candidates sent voters a campaign newsletter adorned with the state seal. In the newsletter, they criticizing Republicans and asked for contributions.
According to state law, it’s the Idaho secretary of state’s duty “to affix the great seal, with his attestation, to commissions, pardons, and other public instruments to which the official signature of the governor is required.”